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U.S. Giving China A Pass On Human Rights?

A Chinese human rights group said today that police are closely watching dissidents and forcing some to stay in their homes during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit.

China is the last stop in Clinton's four-nation Asian tour, and her message on human rights was much different this time than the one she delivered on a previous trip, reports CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

As Clinton met the Chinese leadership today, she spoke repeatedly of "working together," "positive cooperation," and "collaboration."

She made it clear that the Obama administration sees China as an ally rather than a competitor or adversary.

She specifically asked China for help with Iran, North Korea, global warming and the worldwide fiscal meltdown. Message to China: the Obama team wishes you well.

"We want China to grow. We want the Chinese people to have a very good standard of living," Clinton said.

There was absolutely no hint of the old Hillary Clinton, who as First Lady in 1995, skewered Beijing for its human rights violations starting with its treatment of women.

Today when she was asked what happened to human rights, she said little more than that it still comes up: "Human rights is an essential part of U.S. foreign policy.

Clinton told Andrews off camera that the U.S. will still push on women's rights and Tibetan freedom, but suggested that compared to the global agenda with China, human rights have a lower priority.

"But our pressing on those issues can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crises," she told reporters.

Human rights activists said Clinton just made it easy for China to suppress Tibet and internal protests at will.

"She really gave them a completely undeserved and totally unexpected Christmas present," said Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch.

But what Clinton is attempting is diplomacy by inclusion. The idea: maybe in areas of the world where making demands on Beijing don't work, including them as partner will.

(Read more on Clinton's Asian tour and her focus on position on human rights in China.)

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